The Blog

The Blog

Is print really dead, or only certain types?

Real Type

May 4, 2017

twenty20_232edb28-709e-4d9f-8367-b08340efd605.jpgDo you read all your books on a tablet, avoid the magazine counter and digest new information in podcast form? Or is there a resurgence of print media, a “throwback” if you will to simpler times, or at least, fewer rechargeable devices to worry about?

Do magazines actually hold more of a place than being present in the background of that perfectly planned Instagram shot?

The question being, of course, is print really dead?

This seems to be one of those topics that have been debated since the internet was created. I am not interested in resolving this topic once and for all, but more in discussing why it affects your business.

The immense benefits of highly trackable insights, analytics and ROI provided by digital advertising platforms seem fairly obvious, and trump those of traditional advertising any day. Enter the millions of global businesses who’ve shifted a great deal of their ad dollars away from TV, radio, newsprint and magazine ads, towards powerful, targeted and trackable Facebook ads, Google AdWord campaigns, promoted tweets, YouTube pre-roll ads and beyond.

The natural question then, as this trend towards digital, social and online ad campaigns steamrolls upward, is how much longer print publications will be around. While they’ve found creative new revenue streams, partnerships and opportunities, glossy monthly mags, weekly publications and daily newspapers still rely most heavily on – what was at one time, for a very long time – highly lucrative ad revenue. While media conglomerates and traditional publishers of all stripes have attempted to wow us with re-designs, tablet editions and digital ad opportunities galore, they have often fallen flat.

Enter ‘nesting.’ A beacon of print industry hope? Possibly yes. A simple trend that will be gone by summer? Probably not.

In essence, growing armies of digitally overloaded, content overwhelmed, technology fatigued people are returning to traditional ways of doing things, seeking simplicity, sanctity, mindfulness and a return to a less complicated, logged-in life. A quietly growing rebellion against technology, social media and being forever ‘plugged-in’ has created a space for many things, and among them, hardcover books, handwritten notes, and beautifully produced print magazines with a renewed place in people’s day, life and home.

Thus, with the so-called ‘death of print’ there has been a very certain rise of certain print. Where we are no longer getting our news and daily celebrity gossip from the newsstand, we seem willing to pick up a $20 magazine tailored perfectly to our niche interests. Magazines like Kinfolk, Cereal, Dote and Adbusters continue to increase in popularity, proving simply that the type of print content being consumed has changed, and for good reason.

What does this mean for your business?

Whether you offer a digital product, consumable good or are service based, you need to be aware of the stigma around how you choose to advertise. Marketers have a reputation for being ‘worse than parents’ on social media. As in, that social media platform that started out cool quickly lost its lustre when your mom added you as a friend. The same is often true when businesses and brands are granted the opportunity to start advertising on the latest and great social platform – read: Instagram Stories ads, announced this week – where the challenge becomes to stand out as a brilliant content creator who adds value to the platform and the user experience, not a spammy, self-promoting advertiser.

If we can learn from the journey that print has taken, we know that people no longer want to consume quick updates in print form because they are coming at such a fast pace, but that there is still a desire, need and use for printed content (besides starting campfires and lining dog kennels). How can your company create content that it worth printing? Simply. Create content that is worth being around longer than the time it takes to scroll on an iPhone.

We can learn a lot from the publications that are the exception to the rule, selling well, reporting profits and finding homes on coffee tables, bookshelves and nightstands (see examples here). In a nutshell:

  1. Create highly visual, compelling, value-adding content on specific and interesting topics
  2. Create meaningful, game-changing content that is destined to last much longer than the next news cycle
  3. Have a very specific niche and therefore speak to, attract and endear a very specific audience

With the non-stop global creation, publication and consumption of massive amounts of news information and updates, newsprint is increasingly appearing to be a non-viable option.

Print magazines have gone through a great deal of refining themselves, where, like social media, only the best have broken through the noise, survived, and thrived.